New York State Funeral Directors Association

Syracuse-area baseball fans are pondering life’s special moments as they vie for a grand prize to end all grand prizes: a free funeral.

The Syracuse Chiefs, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, is partnering with the Farone & Son Inc. Funeral Home and a couple other local businesses for a mid-August “Celebration of Life” night.

The team has a giveaway at all its Wednesday home games, and spokeswoman Kathleen McCormick said the funeral package is “by far the largest prize” yet.


Contestants were asked to write an essay describing how they celebrate their life, and what makes it special.

“We’ve received lots of interest in the community,” McCormick said.

The essays she’s read so far depict people embracing what they value. Some are submitting essays on behalf of their loved-ones, she said.

“They’re wonderful to read. People really stop and tell you about how they look at life, and what’s important to them,” McCormick said.

ChiefsLogoThe contest marks the first time the 103 year-old firm will give away free service, funeral director Joe Farone said.

The baseball team, embracing an idea from a similar initiative in Pennsylvania last year, reached out to the Syracuse funeral home with the proposal.

“I thought it was great,” Farone said.

It’s a contest Farone hopes will get more people in the community thinking about how they’d like their lives celebrated once they’ve run the bases for the last time.

“Nobody wants to think about it, but it’s something that’s going to happen. You prepare for everything else in your life. It’s one thing that, maybe, you should prepare for,” said Farone, who said his community is a “pretty big sports town.”

The program is having an effect similar to the Funeral and Memorial Information Council's Have the Talk of a Lifetime campaign that encourages families to discuss how they want to be remembered.

Syracuse Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol in a press release depicted the prize as a way to give a great fan a great send-off.

“The fans of the Syracuse Chiefs are the best in all of Minor League Baseball, so they deserve the best in the afterlife,” Smorol said.

Thinking about the final tomorrow should help people embrace the present, he said.

“By partnering with Farone & Son Funeral Home for this awesome promotion, we hope all of our fans remember to celebrate life to the fullest,” Smorol said.

Farone’s prize package includes a casket and the funeral home’s full service from death through final disposition.

Thanks to two other local companies, the Sweet-Woods Memorial Co., and the Westcott Florist, the prize package includes a memorial or grave marker and flowers for the funeral.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, held a similar event in 2013.

Steve Paul, a 64 year-old who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease earlier that year, won the contest, according to CBSPhilly.

New Yorkers interested in learning about preplanning funeral services can get easy contact information for their local funeral director from the NYSFDA's handy Find a Funeral Home feature.


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